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Why We Should All Consider Integration

Why legacy systems still hold serious value

22Apr

We’re in a world that never stands still - where a thirst for change is bringing us to the brink of a Fourth Industrial Revolution and the convergence of the digital, human and physical worlds.

It’s why digital business transformation is setting the agenda, promising the kind of shape-shifting revolution which means wiping the slate clean and shaking up the existing infrastructure with something slicker, faster and sexier.

With all eyes on the next big thing, it’s little surprise that legacy technologies are all too easily chucked on the scrapheap, seen as relics from the ‘70s and ‘80s with no part to play in this shiny new vision.

But this would be short-sighted because when it comes to critical applications, you don’t always have to turf out existing assets; there is, in fact, a middle ground which can take the best bits of the new and the old. You only have to look at data analytics to see how this can be a powerful mix in practice. Real-time and Fast Data may grab the headlines, but it’s only when used with historical data that we get to the real value, learning from the past to inform future actions. Plus, with the requirements for legacy systems such as CRM and ERP not going anywhere soon, keeping an open mind to an approach that doesn’t involve throwing out the baby with the bathwater makes sense on all levels.

So let’s consider for a minute why the old guard is worth keeping hold of. Firstly, fuelled by years of investment, legacy systems do hold serious value, retaining the kind of knowledge needed to support unique business processes as well as avoiding the hassle of migrating to an entirely new system. Then there’s an appreciation for the tried and tested experience this offers, evidenced by the findings from research company, Vanson Bourne, which reveal that 86% of 100 IT directors do in fact regard legacy systems as critical to customer service delivery.

The challenge remains in selling the merits and value of the approach more broadly across the organisation and overcoming assumptions that integrating old systems within new architecture will be complex, time-consuming and expensive. Increasingly it’s a task in the hands of the CIO, as they navigate the journey to a digital future which balances the innovation and evolution with the practical issues around cost and disruption.

The familiarity of harnessing existing resources can be a compelling business case for making a more integrative approach central to future success, hand in hand with the new wave of integration technologies which are making the process more affordable and easier.

It’s an approach which increasingly underpins IT transformation across large organisations, which need to integrate the disparate legacy technologies and applications. This can be a particular challenge in the aftermath of a merger for example, when a business still needs to deliver a consistent and seamless customer experience while dealing with a disparate mix of different brands and channels. Rather than simply doing more of the same, this can, in fact, represent a good opportunity to introduce real transformation, on a level that can shift the organisational culture, perhaps from a sales focus to one driven by service. The end result? A more consistent brand and identity, with the tools to drive continuous change, all without starting from scratch.

TIBCO’s Fast Data technology platform enables all of the systems and processes to communicate together and share real-time information, standardising core business processes, enhancing agility and reducing duplication. 

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